Thursday, October 29, 2009

How to Listen to Jazz

After surviving a near-fatal marriage and returning once again to the Original Geniusdome, the site of some of my best work (remember that really funny thing I wrote about jazz that time?), I recently took some time to reflect upon my contributions to Our Music. As the Dean of American Jazz Humorists©®, I have long considered it my responsibility both to demystify some of the more esoteric aspects of jazz and to loosen the death grip of the zealot so that the music can breathe. And if by fulfilling these duties, I should somehow end up rich and famous, romantically linked to unspeakably hot actresses like Christina Hendricks and/or Scarlett Johansson and given a lifetime supply of beer by the Anheuser-Busch corporation for my work promoting the consumption of their product by tireless example, well, then, so be it.

But in the process of sifting through my collected works, a glaring oversight was pointed out to me by my parakeet/bodyguard Luca Brasi. "Yes, we get it, {{Wynton Marsalis = 1914}} has a very round head. But where in all this do you give JazzNoobs a lesson in how to listen to this sometimes daunting music?" he said, making a valid point for someone who spends a significant portion of his day chirping at his own reflection in a mirror.

Sure enough, in eight years of occupying my mantle here at AAJ, I had not once addressed the very basic issue that is probably most responsible for keeping people from making a more dedicated foray into the seemingly impenetrable depths of Our Music that lie beyond the safety and comfort of the familiar kind of jazz one hears on those 1970's TV shows where people in polyester bell-bottoms and crocheted sweater-vests are supposed to be hip.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All About Jazz Launches New Photo Gallery

The new All About Jazz Photo Gallery is live! If you're a professional photographer, a musician or a fan who takes pictures at concerts or festivals, upload your photos to AAJ and share them with the largest jazz community online. Portrait/publicity photos, concert photos, archived photos and candid photos are all welcome. You can upload paintings and illustrations too.

Tag your photos, add descriptions and associate them with musicians, venues, festivals and yourself at AAJ. You can upload 1, 10, 100... 500 photos at a time. It's easy and it's fast.Our new gallery works a little like Flickr, but is fully integrated with the All About Jazz website.Upload your jazz photos to AAJ today!

Photo Credit
Sue Storey

Ask Mr. P.C. - New Musician Etiquette Column at All About Jazz

Attn: Musicians!

You're invited to participate in AAJ's new etiquette column, "Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette and Bandstand Decorum."

Read our October questions and answers here.

Have a question for Mr. P.C.? Send it to him here.

Have fun!

About Mr. P.C.

Inspired by the cutting edge advice of Abigail Van Buren, the storied bass playing of Paul Chambers, and the need for a Politically Correct doctrine for navigating the minefields of jazz etiquette, I humbly offer my services. More...

Celebrate Cuneiform Records Download Week: Free MP3s by Wadada Leo Smith, Ergo, Zevious, Jason Adasiewic and Beat Circus

Download five free MP3s courtesy of Cuneiform Records.

She Haunts Me (3:41)
From: Multitude, Solitude
Cuneiform Records

South Central L.A. Kulture (4:50)
Wadada Leo Smith
From: Spiritual Dimensions
Cuneiform Records
Where's the Captain? (5:10)
From: After the Air Raid
Cuneiform Records
Hide (4:26)
Jason Adasiewicz's Rolldown
From: Varmint
Cuneiform Records
The February Train (4:16)
Beat Circus
From: Boy From Black Mountain
Cuneiform Records

The tracks above are also available on each musician's profile page.


Singer/Songwriter/Pianist Bruce Hornsby Interviewed at AAJ...and More

For more than 20 years, singer/songwriter, pianist/composer, and band-leader Bruce Hornsby, has proven to be a survivor in an ever changing music environment. From winning multiple awards including a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1987 for the multi-platinum album The Way It Is (RCA, 1986) with his band The Range, to dual releases in 2007 (on Sony/Legacy)--a foot-stomping bluegrass duo Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby and the swinging jazz trio outing Camp Meeting, with drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Christian McBride--Hornsby has thrived in a variety of settings.

AAJ Contributor Mark F. Turner spoke with Hornsby recently, about his latest release, Levitate (Verve, 2009)--the first studio disc to feature his longtime band The Noisemakers--his first Broadway musical, SCKBSTD, starting out on guitar, and much more in Bruce Hornsby: The Master of Levitation, published today at AAJ.

You can also read Mark's insightful review of Levitate, also published today at AAJ.

Guitarist Oz Noy Interviewed at AAJ

Oz Noy's Schizophrenic (Magnatude Records, 2009) is the perfect moniker for the Israeli-born, New York-based guitarist. With an array of influences ranging from Charlie Parker to Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Noy melds elements from funk, rock, blues and jazz into his own unique, personal take on modern instrumental music.

Noy's solos seem to be in constant flux as he weaves in and out of hard-driving rock grooves, jazzy based harmonic progressions and rhythmically complex, often lightening fast, improvisations. Listening to Noy's compositions and solos reveals a musician that may be described as having musical schizophrenia, but also one that has emerged with a voice like no other.

AAJ's Matthew Warnock spoke with Noy recently, about recording his latest album, Schizophrenic (Magnatude, 2009) and reconciling his various stylistic influences into one, cogent approach.

Check out Oz Noy: No Longer Making Choices at AAJ today!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Drummer/Composer Harris Eisenstadt Interviewed at AAJ

Over the past decade, drummer, bandleader and composer Harris Eisenstadt has been a force in improvised music, active in both Los Angeles and New York (where he now resides). It's a testament to his creativity and energy that his ensembles have run the gamut from free-bop in the vein of post-Blue Note small groups, to orchestral works and the recasting of traditional Senegalese popular song into improvisational vehicles. Canada Day is the name of his latest ensemble and disc (Clean Feed, 2009)--a love letter to modern jazz of the 1960s and to his birthplace. Though busy with both family and music, Eisenstadt's artistic pace shows no sign of slowing.

AAJ Contributor Clifford Allen spoke with Eisenstadt recently, about his various projects, travels, education and cutting his teeth on the Left Coast scene before relocating to New York.

Check out Harris Eisenstadt: From Mbalax to Canada Day at AAJ today!

All About Jazz Publishes in Multiple Languages

All About Jazz to publish articles in Spanish, Italian, French and German

As a service to their increasing global readership, AAJ will publish choice content as well as translated content in Spanish, Italian and French.

Says Michael Ricci, All About Jazz's Founder/Publisher, "It's been a longstanding goal to publish localized versions of AAJ. We have the ability to deliver regional information in the United States through MY AAJ, and thanks to Luigi Santosuosso, we have provided coverage of jazz from Italy (in Italian) for eight years. We are developing solutions beyond English and Italian to present other languages starting with Spanish."

As of today, All About Jazz will publish articles in Spanish under the editorial direction of Joan A. Cararach. Look for interviews with pianists Danilo Perez and Omar Sosa, a review of Dafnis Prieto new album (Live at Jazz Standard), and an interview with Joan A. Cararach himself, who just happens to be the artistic director of the Barcelona Jazz Festival. The first article, published today, is the prologue to the English version of the Barcelona Jazz Festival 40 Edition book, written by Miguel Ángel Moratinos, Spanish foreign minister. We'll also translate a 2003 interview with Blue Note's CEO Bruce Lundvall who is one of the guest lecturers at the 2009 Barcelona Jazz Festival.

"I've followed All About Jazz regularly since 1997," states Mr. Cararach. "So I invited Michael Ricci to come to Barcelona to be part in my lecture series along with such other prestigious journalists as Nate Chinen, Stanley Crouch, Gary Giddins, Ashley Kahn, Bill Milkowski and Ben Ratliff. The opportunity to partner with an organization as committed to jazz advocacy as All About Jazz is very exciting, and we greatly look forward to developing a Spanish language version of AAJ with original content. It's time to write about musicians like Chano Dominguez, Guillermo Klein and Danilo Perez, as well as Cuban masters like the great Bebo Valdes, in their own shared language."

Look for the language flags on the Article Center and CD Review Center pages--we'll also identify languages on each article page and on the home page.

Guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg Interviewed at AAJ

The world of jazz guitar has long been filled with some of the most storied names in jazz history. Artists such as Charlie Christian, Johnny Smith, Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny and John Scofield have all become recognized as some of jazz's greatest innovators and most prolific performers.

In a day and age when it seems that jazz, and jazz guitar, has been through just about every transition, amalgamation and innovation possible, there are still new voices emerging to take the music forward into unexplored and exciting territory. One of the guitarists that is leading this charge is New York-based picker Jonathan Kreisberg. With a strong foundation in the jazz tradition, and a personal vision of the genre's future, Kreisberg is winning over crowds and critics alike with his albums and concerts held around the world.

AAJ Contributor Matthew Warnock spoke with Kreisberg about his background, moving from progressive rock to jazz and, for guitar-heads, a little tech-talk.

Be sure to check out Jonathan Kreisberg Unearthed at AAJ today!

Singer Roberta Gambarini Interviewed at AAJ

It's been an out-of-the-ordinary career trip for Roberta Gambarini--a trip that's seen her go from a young girl in Italy, scatting along with records by American singers Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, to struggling to get singing gigs in her native land, to grabbing an opportunity to come to the United States, to gaining recognition by respected elders like Benny Carter, James Moody, Clark Terry and nonagenarian pianist Hank Jones, who has proclaimed her "the best jazz singer to emerge in sixty years."

She was accepted into certain jazz circles over a decade ago, and doors begin to open, even if slowly at first. But always behind that acceptance was a natural, exceptional talent, without which she wouldn't have opened certain ears and eyes--and doors--in the first place. She's blossomed, since coming to the United States in 1998, into one of the very best singers out there. She owns a wonderful instrument: her vocal cords, displaying power and nuance, rich textures and flexibility. And she's always working on how to convey a song with the right feeling and tell a story. It's important to her.

AAJ Contributor R.J. DeLuke spoke with Gambarini about her new album, So In Love (Groovin' High/Emarcy, 2009), choosing unorthodox material for interpretation, and the importance of the pianists she has worked with in her relatively brief, yet meteoric career.

Check out Roberta Gambarini: Making Listeners Fall 'So In Love' at AAJ today!

Friday, October 2, 2009

All About Jazz Celebrates The Beatles

All About Jazz is celebrating our own brand of Beatlemania with a 14-CD contest giveaway (expires October 10th), a comprehensive review of the recently reissued stereo box set, plus two articles: "Jazz Honors the Beatles" and "How Jazz May Have Influenced The Beatles."

"Jazz Honors the Beatles" includes nearly 80 quotes about the Fab Four by jazz musicians ranging from Christian Scott to John Scofield. Simon Jay Harper delves deep into The Beatles' music-making and postulates how jazz played an influential role, particularly on their early-recorded material.

And finally, we're featuring guitarist Chuck Anderson's "Eleanor Rigby / Norweigian Wood Medley" as today's featured MP3. Download it now.

Saxophonist Chris Byars Interviewed at AAJ

As legendary jazz vibraphonists Teddy Charles describes him, "It's not easy to be Chris Byars. With an incredible array of talents brought to bear on his composition, arrangements, and cooking jazz performances, it's no wonder he's worked his way to the forefront of the myriad of jazz players overwhelming the scene."

Byars has been working hard over the past few years, releasing a string of critically well-received albums including Blue Lights: The Music of Gigi Gryce (SteepleChase, 2009) and, with Charles, Dances With Bulls (Smalls Records, 2009)

AAJ Contributor Ludwig van Trikt spoke with Byars about his upbringing as a child opera star, his eventual conversion to jazz altoist and, ultimately, his efforts to bring greater attention to the music of deserving, but lesser-known artists including {{Gigi Gryce = 7277}}, {{Jimmy Lovelace}} and {{Frank Hewitt = 14759}}.

Check out Chris Byars: Studying Unsung Heroes at AAJ today!

Progressive Saxophonist/Flautist Theo Travis Interviewed at AAJ...And More!

British musician Theo Travis has one of the most varied performing and recording histories to be found among contemporary jazz musicians. A talented saxophonist, flautist and composer, Travis has performed solo, in duos and quartets, in straight ahead jazz combos and in electronic, improvisational groups.

Despite his extensive back catalog, however, Theo Travis is not as well-known to jazz or prog fans as he should be. This may be due in part to his unassuming nature and a refreshing lack of ego, or to his determination to play what he enjoys rather than just playing for the money or the exposure. Whatever the reason, the lack of fame is not mirrored by a lack of work: Travis is constantly involved with musical projects, groups and collaborations with an at times bewildering array of players. He's a busy man, as he readily admits.

AAJ Contributor Bruce Lindsay spoke with Travis about his multifaceted career, working with some of the most prominent names in progressive/art rock, and the development of Ambitronics, his own woodwind response to Fripp's Frippertronics and Soundscapes. Read Bruce's informative interview, Theo Travis: From Prog to Jazz and Back Again, at AAJ today!

But that's not all. You can read AAJ Managing Editor John Kelman's review of Slow Life (Ether Sounds, 2003), an album of solo flute that spawned Ambitronics, also published at AAJ today.

Finally, watch Travis live, a 2009 solo performance that demonstrates his use of Ambitronics, today's AAJ Daily Video.

AAJ is committed to bringing you the most extensive coverage anywhere, so check out the buzz surrounding Theo Travis at AAJ today!

Pianist Fred Hersch Interviewed at AAJ

From the start of his career as a sideman in the 1970s for such jazz luminaries as Joe Henderson, Art Farmer and Stan Getz to his own ensembles and solo projects, there has always been a great diversity and intensity to Fred Hersch's art. Having won a Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for composition (2003) and having been the first piano player in The Village Vanguard's 70 year history to do a week's solo residency, Hersch has managed to be both a musician's musician and resonate in the jazz public's consciousness without ever compromising his own artistic vision.

AAJ Contributor Maxwell Chandler spoke at length with Hersch, about his early indoctrination to jazz, his many projects including the recently released Fred Hersch Plays Jobim (Sunnyside, 2009) and critically acclaimed Leaves of Grass (Palmetto, 2005), and making history at The Village Vanguard.

Check out Fred Hersch: No Limits at AAJ today!